By Chris McGraw, Grassroots Advocacy Director at Amnesty International USA
From March 29-April 9th, we’re sending clusters of human rights supporters out to the front lines in their home districts to meet with Senators and Representatives.
The purpose of these visits is to educate members of Congress about the shocking rates of pregnancy-related deaths among women in the United States. The awful truth behind these appalling numbers is that half of these deaths can be prevented. Women are dying because they simply can’t afford to access proper maternal care.
These groups, or delegations, that will help raise awareness about this tragedy, play an essential role in keeping human rights central to the health care debate. Right now we are looking for people who can help us coordinate these meetings locally. There are a few things you should know first before you consider going head-to-head with your Senator or Representative:
1) Senators and Representatives aren’t as mean as they look on TV. Now don’t get us wrong, they aren’t angels either, but for the most part, we find that elected officials enjoy sitting down face-to-face with their constituents. They are public servants and can only represent you if they know where you stand on the issues. After meeting with our delegations, we’ve seen members of Congress change their tune on our issues – signing on to letters of support or even voting in favor of human rights!
2) There is power in numbers. Even though your delegations are made up of a few people, you’re not just at the Congressional office as a small group; you’re representing a movement of millions. As a representative of Amnesty International, your reputation precedes you. When you stand up for human rights, you never stand alone.
3) Preparation is key. We won’t let you go in there unprepared. In fact, our government relations experts are on-hand to answer all your questions about how to organize an effective meeting and present the issue clearly. We’ve put together step-by-step guides and other instructional materials to ensure that you feel prepared before you meet with your elected officials.
I hope you’ll consider joining our fight to prevent pregnancy-related deaths. We will not back down until a woman’s right to a safe childbirth is fully protected!